Yoga 101

Terms

  • Pranayama is the formal practice of controlling the breath, which is the source of our prana, or vital life force.
  • Asanas also known as yoga postures.
  • Vinyasa is the sequential movement that links postures to form a continuous flow. It creates a movement meditation that nourishes the body and the mind.
  • Flow is a group of asanas or postures that links the third limb of the yoga path (asana, or poses) and the fourth limb (pranyama, or breath).
  • Meditation is taking time to be aware. Whatever you do with awareness in essence becomes a meditation. Listening to your breath, watching the flicker of a candle, these both become meditations because your mind is free from any other distraction. Mediation is not a technique but rather a helpful tool to have in life. Mediation means a cessation of the thought process. To put it another way, when the mind is free from scattered thoughts as some say monkey mind or reeling thoughts. We will cover ways to meditate as time goes on.
  • Yoga Thoughts Normally the sequence of a yoga practice includes: an asana flow followed by pranayama and then mediation.

 

Most people in the West think of Yoga as exercise, a way to burn calories or a way to get a good sweat. Truly the yoga asanas help to prepare the body for mediation. We stretch, strengthen, work on flexibility and balance so that we can sit for a prolonged time in a comfortable seated posture to quiet the mind.

One breath, one movement. This is the focus on a yoga asana practice. Sometimes it is beneficial to hold postures for a few breaths but to engage the cardiovascular system you want to focus on taking one breath per movement. For example, inhale in Mountain Pose, exhale into Forward Fold.

Another quick way to remember this is:

Inhale on postures that open the body. Exhale on postures that close down the body.